Hear the first chapter of the audiobook for Rockhound by K’Anne Meinel @KAnneMeinel narrated by Amelia Patricks on this episode of Book Clips, the mini podcast that gives listeners a taste of a book.
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Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, especially if she gets them herself!
Sam is a unique woman. She goes after what she wants in life, wherever it may take her. This time it takes her to Southeast Asia to pan for diamonds in the islands. It’s dirty, hot, and dangerous. Her trip is worth it, though, as she finds what she came for. Finding a woman who is intrigued by her, the adventure, and more is just a bonus. Felicia goes along on another trip; could it be fatal for both of them to go deep in the jungle to search for these elusive stones?
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please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect
you are listening to book clips a mini podcast in which authors and erasers do readings from novels check out the show notes for the synopsis and by links for this book chapter one Sam let the current take the canoe for a few minutes as she rested from fighting the path of the water she had been slipping up this particular section of the river for a couple of days Jacques looked over a shoulder at her suspiciously wondering why she had stopped paddling then he looked around wondering if she saw something he didn’t it didn’t happen often but he trusted her as she trusted him and he was willing to go anywhere she went anyway the sweat was dripping off her and she nonchalantly wiped at a mosquito but it really was useless they came in hordes and drove her person nuts she had rubbed a native plant she didn’t know the name of but Yoshi had promised it would help it did until the constant sweat washed it off and she had open spots for them to zoom in on she looked at the jungle all around her before continuing her paddling digging deep into the water on each side of the canoe to gain footage against the constant currents she saw nothing beyond the luxuriant foliage the rich greens the dark Browns and blacks occasionally a monkey or other primate could be seen but mostly she saw birds of every species she could imagine on the southeast asian island it constantly surprised her that birds she thought exclusive to one part of the world could occasionally be seen here she wondered if there were cousins of birds that were exclusive to other parts but she wasn’t a bird person didn’t know their names or species she could spot the parrots and other exotic birds that brought high prices back in the States she even had one or two that had come to her Hut and let her feed them until she ran out of food for not only herself and her dog but scraps for them they looked at her accusingly when she had nothing to offer them she felt guilty for providing something for them getting them to depend on her but not having something when she ran out it was one of the many reasons that this trip was important she needed food she needed tools and she was getting desperate Craig Ferguson had asked you know anything about mapping she looked up from the beer she was nursing she allowed herself one a week to make her meager monies go further she nodded but didn’t answer he whipped out a map and pointed to a section on it that was essentially blank I need to know what’s in this section from the river up to the edge of big ole Saul she studied the map shaking her head even with modern technology she was amazed with how little they knew of certain parts of the world and how it still required good old-fashioned footwork she got excited though when she realized the River section that he was pointing out and glanced up to see he knew she wanted to go there well she drawled out in her southern Louisiana accent I could find you a section or two that way he grinned knowing that she would be hooked with the offer he pulled out his wallet and handed her a few bills you’ve got two weeks and you’ll get double this when you get back more if you do a real good job she grinned he knew and she knew she would do a good job the money meant enough for her to buy supplies she’d been down to almost nothing she didn’t waste time either she finished her beer shook his hand and said see you in two weeks taking the map with her although it was afternoon she headed over to the village and entered the store put in a few supplies ordering more than she could carry right now and asking the rest to be delivered to her Shack she left carrying a load that would put the average man to shame but on her shoulders she carried it effortlessly years of being independent and self-sufficient had rendered her strong in mind as well as body she broke open the packs and repacked the supplies she had purchased when there was a knock on her door and she opened to see the young man of fourteen smiling up at her cheerfully with a wheelbarrow behind him filled with the rest of her supplies yo she she said delighted knowing he could use the work the store sent his way deliveries didn’t pay much but every little bit of money helped in this poor area of the world you order much Missy he grinned bringing in bags of supplies including rice peas and other staples yeah I got a job for a few weeks you have worked for Yoshi he asked hopefully she hesitated for a moment to tease him I think I could find something for someone of say about your size and age she grinned he returned to the grin he had known if she had a job he’d be the first to get it he had befriended her from the first time she had landed on the island keeping her from falling for stupid gimmicks and con jobs that some of the villagers would pull on white folks and tourists she even owed him for hooking her up with the shack that she lived in it wasn’t much but it provided a roof over her head for her and her dog a mongrel she had adopted who had been beaten in the village until she rescued it she had found out later it was the sweetest thing and loyal without question it had saved her from being bothered a few times when drunken men had come calling thinking a single woman alone would welcome their attentions the dog and a loaded semi-automatic Glock kept them at bay and at a respectful distance the Shack was only four walls barely held together but it kept the rains out and it gave her a place to sleep she and the dog kept it safe these shacks went up all over free rent if you built it yourself on the beach and no one minded hers was lonely on this section of beach but it afforded her a view that she couldn’t complain about and she liked being alone to a degree chapter 2 Sam hadn’t realized that coming to Southeast Asia would teach her a level of poverty that even put parts of southern Louisiana to shame most of the natives though had no idea how poor they were so it wasn’t like they noticed coming from a moderately middle-class family she had first been shocked and then found herself adapting rapidly living like this would have shocked anyone who had known Samantha Grayson back in the states but she had come with a purpose and in the year she had lived there she had learned a lot and if she had the money she had come with she would have gone inland and achieved her goals having her place ransacked had taught her to be on alert at all times fortunately she still had her glock an enviable gun at all times but especially so on these islands she also had the canoe she had ordered from the states she still laughed at the airmail pilot who had to bring it when she ordered it he had been really put out getting it into his plane and she was just glad she hadn’t ordered the larger one she had originally wanted it would have taken months longer possibly years to get it shipped the canoe was only six feet long kind of a modified kayaking style but aluminum and buoyant beyond anything she had seen around here mostly homemade it would make the trip she would do for Ferguson easy and with the supplies the dog and Yoshi not too heavy that would be handy if she had to portage anywhere she packed to the canoe carefully having broken everything down into smaller packets using sealed bags for the food so nothing would spill out and nothing else crawl in she packed her rifle on the special bracket she had installed under the edge of the lip of the canoe even if they rolled she wouldn’t lose it by the next day she and Yoshi pushed it down to the edge of the water in front of the beach of her Shack it cut a deep groove in the sand from the weight of their supplies but it floated beautifully in the water as they packed a last few things Sam was wearing camp pants with pockets all over filled with necessities like a Swiss Army knife that many villagers would have traded a year’s income for which wasn’t saying much around here she carried extra packets and bullets and other various supplies on her person buy a leather belt that assured it wouldn’t slip off her slender hips and hell the nylon holsters over her shoulder to hold her Glock in a couple of loaders her wife-beater shirt was covered by another cotton shirt opened all the way down socks peeked out of her rugged hiking boots and she changed into a type of moccasin once they were on their way tying the boots tight to her packs she had a couple changes of clothes in her packs but this would mainly be her costume over the next couple of weeks she looked at Yoshi as they shoved off he was dressed in a wrap that covered his loins and carried a small change of clothes and a machete as well as a type of knife at his waist he went barefoot and she wondered if this was because he was a native and used to the rugged Island or because he was too poor to afford foot coverings she didn’t ask because she knew it would be rude she knew what she paid him would help support his mother and sisters and as he had treated her with respect and honesty she trusted him they headed down the beach past the village and up the mouth of the river that poured down out of the steep mountains into the ocean its current strong they fought the waves the Delta created until they were higher up and then only had the strong current to contend with smoothly Sam paddled used to long hours in the canoe or in a kayak from childhood her arms were well muscled as well as her back and shoulders by mid-morning she stripped off her cotton shirt and rubbed her exposed skin with a plant that Yoshi handed her to keep bugs off by its smell it would also keep away humans but she hoped she wasn’t going to be seeing any there were natives back here in the jungles that no one saw for years at a time if ever some had never seen a white woman a few she had met over the year that she had lived here had stared at her unashamedly but their idea of beauty was not her westernized idea and they weren’t attracted to the white woman just curious besides she found the natives ugly even the women didn’t stir any desire in her the long hiatus and her love life didn’t bother her she was here for a purpose and Craig had given her an opportunity to start it if you if any of the people she had met here knew why a white woman from southern Louisiana would have chosen to come to this remote corner of the world Sam kept that to herself some of the supplies she had packed would have given her away but then no one knew what she had hidden every five miles or so up the river they stopped for her to check the map and she almost missed the tributary she was looking for they stopped for her to take notes and draw on a copy of the map she had made of Craig’s she gave very good descriptions and kept careful notes having been observant of what they saw in the curves of this fast-moving River and features she could see all would help Craig if what she suspected was going to happen would happen the government would probably be building a road up this godforsaken section for some reason she didn’t question it she accepted the money and kept her mouth shut she hated the thought of the miles of trees that would be cut down for a road to nowhere but it was none of her business so she did her job it paid well and with the money she made it would allow her to make another trip or two up here with supplies and go after her real goal nights she’s strung a hammock from a tree not wanting to sleep on the ground where things crawled and slithered not that being in a tree stopped any of those things either but it was a hell of a lot cooler but the nights were kind of cool their fire was kept small out of necessity to keep from being noticed she wrapped her hammock and herself in mosquito netting and an old mummy bag that had been with her for years it was cool in summer and warm in winter or up to freezing it was also waterproof and kept the frequent showers from bothering her while she slept Jacques slept under her and a low growl would waken her instantly her hand never far from her Glock while most of the natives were friendly there were some who couldn’t help but Envy what they perceived as riches of the white woman and then of course there were people from all over the world that came to these islands for their own reasons some friendly and some not she and Yoshi went up to the base of one of the many mountains that wound down the spine of Asia and across island started throughout Southeast Asia before being swallowed up by vast oceans of water many in this area of the world were formed by volcanoes some of them still active she and Yoshi had paddled hard to make good time and buy her some time in the schedule that Craig had given her this allowed her to come to this area and explore as she had planned they veered off the river they had mapped as that part was done as far as she was concerned she still had a few more notes but could do this on their way back down this other tributary was something she had looked specifically for it came off the mountain and they paddled up it for hours until it was no longer navigable pulling the canoe well up and turning it over they sheltered their remaining supplies well out of the reach of most animals and protected them from the elements by the canoe itself they shouldered their packs and began to climb along the river Sam was once again wearing her hiking boots Jacques seemed to be enjoying himself they were hiking and he loved it the new sights and smells were exciting he was also with his favorite human and for that he was grateful the last year of his life was the happiest he could remember and he loved and adored her and would protect her with his life his loyalty was unquestioned her attempts to brush him had turned a mongrel dog into a beautiful shaggy beast she kept him well groomed and clean and he did his best to keep her busy in both of those departments he stayed far enough ahead that she didn’t walk into him as they made their own paths Yoshi led for a while chopping at the foliage and making a path then Sam would take a turn it was exhausting to chop and cut as they tried to keep a fairly good pace along the rocky river finally they came to an area where the river carved out a path in the mountain itself falling from up high into a pool below and meandering down the rocks before continuing on down the gradual grade below to the larger River miles away here Sam made a camp well before dark she put her water moccasins on and stepped out into the water with a short pan wading out to her knees to begin scooping up the sand rakh she found before the water curved away on the larger rocks it took about five pens of sand silt and water before she began to see anything of what she had come for to the untrained eye it looked like she was panning for gold but she wasn’t she was panning for diamonds a bit of glass like substance dirty and unpolished caught her eye she reached for it and rinsed it off looking at it closely while reaching for a glass vial in one of her many button-down pockets Sam knew that the volcano on this particular Island had diamonds she had heard about it from a geologist she knew years ago she also knew enough about the geography to have an educated guess about where to look the water would wear down the rock and bring it down into streams and rivers she had looked for a place where sand and silt would have trouble going beyond a certain point and would build up trapping the diamonds or so she thought and theorized people could be rich from just one or two of these diamonds from the islands but getting here was argue as’ and dangerous Sam had come up another River once before in the year that she had been here and nearly died from bug bites hostile natives and her own stupidity she wouldn’t make those mistakes again Yoshi could be trusted this area was very remote and she had learned a lot she was a lot more patient to now she had three days before she had to head back to the canoe and use the current to take her back down a week’s paddling and plotting on the map would only take a day and a half to slip down on the currents barring accidents Yoshi went off to hunt fashioning a bow and arrow in the age-old style of his ancestors his father had taught him until he had died leaving Yoshi the sole supporter of his mother and sisters he didn’t care about glass stones that some of the visitors to his Island did he didn’t understand and while Sam could have explained she wasn’t sure it was her place he lived a simple life on a simple island and she thought she’d help him if she got a real find she wouldn’t corrupt him with her Western way of thinking several pans full yielded nothing and she had three or four good pieces before she felt the cold of the water wearing on her and the afternoon Sun waning she waited to the edge of the stream to their camp and pulled herself out looking carefully she checked for leeches fortunately the Swift flowing stream had kept them off her it was more likely and sluggish muddy water that she would have to worry about them they really drove her crazy and the size of them were alarming in this part of the world she took out a magnifying glass and examined the few stones she had gotten from panning and was pleased with the quality she was disappointed in their size but this was only her first attempt on this section of the river so she was pleased she found anything at all she thought about her efforts as she quickly made rice and peas in a small pot for their dinner Yoshi showed up showing her some type of large bird that reminded her of grouse he quickly plucked it and skewered it on a sharpened stick over their fire it smelled delicious made her mouth water as it dripped into the fire the fat causing the flames to leap up for more she tried not to stare into the fire it was a bad practice and blinded a person instead she looked out into the river or what she could see of it as the Sun had set and the moon rose she could see it was a full moon too and will keep the night lit with its brilliance since she had moved to this island she noticed how beautifully clear the stars and moon were not that in Louisiana they hadn’t been but here it seemed they were closer or something maybe it was the curve of the earth being closer to the equator or something the next day Yoshi left early to explore and hunt jocks out on his paws watching Sam as she waded out to her spot from yesterday she began to lift heavier rocks and fling them further down the river she panned the sand and silt she disturbed trying to pan as much of it as possible before she moved the heavier rocks she had thought about this the previous night in her hammock reasoning that bigger diamonds might have been caught in the bigger rocks wedging in the cracks and silt as the river washed them down she was rewarded with this idea she found several stones larger than what she had collected the previous day she stopped at midday to drink purified water from her canteen she loved this canteen partly because it had a filter built into the cap device water poured in from any source was immediately filtered so she could drink safely from the canteen a clever device and necessary where diarrhea from impure water could kill you in this area of the world that was true dehydration could kill you as well despite all the water around you she finished the bird Yoshi had shot the previous day enjoying the wild chicken taste of it it had cooked beautifully over the fire the night before and they both eaten a breast and a leg Yoshi had taken one of the wings this morning and left the other for her along with the remaining rice and peas she had a delicious lunch sharing some with jock who always seemed hungry even though she had a pack of dried dog food for him she had made the dog food herself at one point as they didn’t carry dried dog food in the village the rock she found that afternoon had her more than pleased one was the size of her thumb which she knew was very valuable it encouraged her to work harder and quicker but she was methodical as she panned around rocks and moved to them being careful not to drop them back on her own feet or lose any chance to find more hurry meant she would lose something and that was foolish she only stopped when the light indicated she had to start dinner Yoshi had returned early with a type of pig he had shot through the head he had gutted and skewered it over a larger fire than the previous night and the smell of pork was making Sam’s mouth drool as they ate two men appeared in the light of the fire but Sam had known they were coming having watched Jacques tense up and growl her glock was already unbuttoned and in her hand as they came into the camp they said things to Yoshi she didn’t understand these native languages and had tried to learn Yoshi’s but there were hundreds of dialects in these islands there was no hope of learning them all she had often reflected that more languages would be lost before anyone even knew of their existence they asked what are we doing here in their lands Yoshi interpreted for her tell the mum explorin she said quietly she’d been prepared for a visit such as this and was only surprised that they hadn’t been bothered before she wasn’t taking any chances though as the Glock in her lap ensured they might get her with a poisoned dart tip but she would take one if not both of with her if she had to she didn’t know how wild these natives were if they had seen white people or knew of the value of the diamonds there would or could be hundreds of scenarios she wasn’t taking any chances they want payment for passage yo she told her she looked at them from under heavy-lidded eyes and asked what do they require for payment their answer would tell her how much influence they had from the outside world yo she answered without asking them they might be happy with a few of the trade necklaces you brought Sam relaxed as she nodded this meant they didn’t know the value of what she had come for and had not met outsiders these necklaces were shiny and not seen this far inland they would look nice for a while and would be valued accordingly Sam wasn’t cheating them by giving them several of these yes they were inexpensive to her but to them they were rare she reached in her pack with her free hand didn’t take her eyes off the natives watching them out of the corner of her eye as she opened one of the flaps and drew out a covered baggie they couldn’t see what it was and she bowed slightly to indicate the gift of the necklaces one of them opened it and exclaimed over the shiny beads that shone in the firelight they divided up the few necklaces and looked around the campsite too Sam it looked like speculation but she couldn’t be sure because she didn’t know these natives yo she spoke with them a few minutes and they nodded then left he waited nearly five minutes before speaking again Sam watched Yoshi and jock and only relaxed when Yoshi said they have gone what was that all about Sam asked to be sure she had her own ideas but she knew Yoshi understood a whole lot more you know supplies you have here very valuable to someone who has nothing like he mentioned looking at her earnestly should we leave she asked immediately he nodded once but answered first morning meaning they would leave first thing in the morning this disappointed her she had hoped to pan until noon before they left but being discovered had necessitated them leaving early it cast a pall over the evening for her but sooner safe than sorry they might decide to come back tonight so she would sleep with the Glock safety on but in her hand tonight they might take the necklaces back to their village and be the big traders but decide to come back for more to see how much more she would give up for just being found in their land Sam wouldn’t take a chance first light found them packing up and eating cold pork before feeding the rest to jock and heading out Sam would have to be happy with the few diamonds she had collected they made their way back to the canoe taking less time than coming up the mountain they were in the water and well into the current in no time the supplies they had eaten and used made the canoe marginally lighter and they sped rapidly down the rushing water Yoshi had been mostly quiet a quality that Sam appreciated as she was lost in her own thoughts and ideas he turned as another tributary came into the main river you like look up there for clear rocks he indicated with his chin to the stream coming in on the opposite side of the river from where they had been Sam made a split-second decision they had a day to kill and it might be worth a look she put the paddle still in the water and the canoe swung for that far shore toward the tributary in no time they were paddling against its sluggish current towards who knew where after a couple of hours Yoshi indicated rocks with his paddle and they pulled away from them soon the sluggishness of this river made the canoe bottomed out on sand banks Sam looked at the sandbars and made a decision when they came to another set of rocks they could portage around them or camp here this evening it would give her a few hours to pan beside it they made a small camp on the shore not nearly as nice as their previous one but adequate most of their supplies were still tied in the canoe I hunt yo she said unnecessarily as he made his way away Sam made a nice hot little fire and started the peas and rice cooking she pulled out a can of peaches tonight for a treat no point in saving these before she headed out into this section to see what she could find she wasn’t hopeful geologically this wasn’t a good spot it wasn’t as close up the volcanic mountain as she had hoped and didn’t have the added benefit of a waterfall but she had to try the first pan had a lot of black silt that obscured the water it took quite a bit of swirling to clear this out before the larger rocks were revealed Sam’s heart clutched the first full pan had not one but two diamonds the size of her fingernail she fished these out and nearly missed a couple of smaller stones she was astonished at her find the first two didn’t even fit in the vial she had used before thinking quickly she simply put them in a button-down pocket on her shorts she would find something later to hold these larger stones she was disappointed when her second third and fourth pans yielded nothing not even small stones although the small ones could be quite valuable for jewelry her fifth pan gave her the largest stone yet she was slipping it into her button-down pocket buttoning it closed each time when she sought jock get up and look where Yoshi had disappeared she tensed and watched him he wasn’t wagging his tail and seemed to his head oddly something about his stance had her walking out of the stream she pulled herself onshore and saw she had several leeches on her legs she shivered and discussed and reached for some salt they used on their food sprinkling it on the leeches causing them to curl back and fall off her legs she flicked them into the fire as she was checking herself one more time getting into an awkward position to look behind her legs Jacque began to growl Sam looked up and unbuttoned her nylon holster to take out the Glock she had just pulled it out when she heard running she got behind the canoe to use it as cover as she waited for she knew not what yo she burst into their campsite and took a second to get his breath back he began to gesture Sam got that they should hurry and leave she turned the canoe over and slid it to the bank as Yoshi through the few supplies they had unpacked into the canoe kicking dirt onto the fire he got into the front Sam in the back and jock jumped into his space in between Sam’s legs as she pushed off although it was getting dark it was lighter in the center of the river where the trees didn’t overhang Sam pushed deep and hard to get them out there and across from whatever they were escaping she couldn’t hear anything over the sounds of the jungle she didn’t see the eyes that saw them rapidly making their getaway it was nearly half an hour later with the current coming faster before yo she turned to explain dad men came fast saw me before I saw them he breathed a sigh of relief at their escape white Sam asked he nodded and then explained that they shot at him never said anything just lifted a gun and took a shot he was lucky that it was jungle they missed and rushed after him as he took off Sam mulled this over there were a lot of unscrupulous white and Native people throughout these islands some had legitimate business and protected it some were here purely for profit and would kill for it she didn’t know what they were looking for but no stones were worth her life you have been listening to book clips check out the show notes for the synopsis and buy links for this book if you are interested in showcasing your 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